Giant Bugs at Ronald McDonald House

July 21st, 2013

RMcDH 041 B

Memphis, TN

Giant bugs have appeared atop the main dining room at the Ronald McDonald House in Memphis, Tennessee. These bugs are there to help though, not invade.

The dining room, which is quite large, was perfect for house guest in every way but one. The room had a lingering echo that all but rendered the space useless for certain activities. "As the room filled up the noise would just become too loud, even reaching the point of painful for some," said Sherri Maxey, Director of House Operations. "Really loud events like our 'Breakfast with Santa' were unbearable for some of our guests."

Having a background in acoustics in his past, one of the Ronald McDonald House board members, John Fleskes, was able through analysis to determine where the problem was. Fleskes explained, "The room is big and being a hospital grade food facility, it's bare of most dust causing and sound absorbing materials. Since we couldn't just add big fluffy things to soak up the echo, we had to look up. The ceilings were vaulted and at such an angle that created a perfect triangle which bounced the echo around the room. Our decision was to break up the echo by using acoustic clouds."

"The idea of the bugs came natural," Fleskes continued. "Conventional clouds I'd seen simply wouldn't do here, especially from an aesthetic and a maintenance perspective. These big guys were the answer. We could disguise the science behind giant smiling faces."

The Armstrong Corporation was contacted and the team began to form a solution around their "SoundScapes" product line. Armstrong then cleverly engineered a way to manufacture these one-of-a-kind acoustic clouds.

In May 2013 the bugs arrived at the Ronald McDonald House. Fleskes noted, "bad weather was looming over us for every minute of the off-load, which took several hours. These bugs are enormous and arrived in large crates and boxes. Each piece had to be removed by hand with everyone literally wearing white gloves. The minute we completed the off-load, the sky opened up and the rain came down. Lucky things like that often happen here."

Finally, the big day arrived and the bugs began to go up, each greeted by the claps and squeals of the children as the looked up noticing the big smiles looking down at them. Later, others began commenting that the room was much more comfortable and quiet.

Thanks to the efforts of many talented and good hearted people, the room is now being used in ways never before possible. Thanks to them all.



Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Memphis - at no charge to our guests - provides supportive services and a "home-away-from-home" for St. Jude families and their children receiving treatment for cancer and other catastrophic illnesses.

For more information regarding the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis, please go to


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Breakfast With Santa


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